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Message updated 6th Mar 2021

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Royale Studio 1b - More Sailors in the Rigging

Royale Studio - Solo Sailor in the Rigging 1

 A solo rigging image featuring a different model. Like his other Royale comrades he is tied into the rigging by ropes at wrist and ankles. The device of subjecting different models to the same, well-defined ritual or theme is commonly used by modern studios too (e.g. First Auditions, Bait Buddies) and it is an intriguing 'hook' for many fans. Obliging these men to don a 'military' uniform as part of the ritual conveys an added sense of control over them and since the clothing is contrived to fit tightly and highlight their assets, it gives the process a distinctive erotic twist. 
In the Royal Navy of old, flogging on the back and on the ass were standard punishments for men but it's fairly obvious in these images that the place of interest is the lower option. In the GIU flogging ritual shown in Part 1a the punishment implement was a sort of Cat-O-Nine-Tails fashioned from unravelled rope, but this man's buttocks seem to cry out for something firmer. He turns his head towards us as if wondering what it will be and that action produces a great, sexy pose that has not dimmed with the passage of decades.
Royale Studio - Solo Sailor in the Rigging 2
In this rarely-seen variant he seems to brace himself for the blows to come. The rope restraints are clearly visible (if not entirely convincing). This image has been cleaned up, there's a more authentic version in the Open Archive (see link below) but the ties are not fully visible in it. 
The tight fit of the trousers around the model's backside is a delight, especially if you are a spanking fan or like touching. The creases around his upper thighs suggests there's also something substantial inside his trousers at the front. He seems to be looking down at it - or perhaps it's the thick rope rising between his legs that's attracting his attention.
Royale Studio - Solo Sailor in the Rigging 3

This coloured, frontal view comes from the Colville Collection mentioned in Part 1a. They named it 'The Brig' for some reason. The restraining ropes can be seen even more clearly here and there's more sense of restraint and struggle than we saw in the equivalent duo shot in Part 1a. Erotically though the pickings are frugal, quite a nice torso and a suggestion of something tucked down his left leg, but the frontal pants area is largely spoiled by a billowing 'flap'. Also Royale had a practice of tucking the belt under this flap, I don't know why. It doesn't really work for me.

The model's face is clearly visible but I've not ID'd him conclusively yet.
Royale Sailor in Punishment Shorts

A different series in which the Sailor-model has been ordered to don PT shorts to receive his punishment. This wasn't standard practice in the Navy (officially) but real offenders were forced to wear ducks (white trousers) that had worn thin at the seat of the pants and with no underwear allowed either. The shirt here is the standard Royal Navy design with square neck trimmed in blue. Royale didn't generally use real uniforms but used authentic copies made from thinner, more sensual material. By contrast, 'Guys in Uniform' Studio tend to stick to PT kit or mix and match uniform elements with fetish gear.
The Royale belt jars again for me in this context, I'd rather get a glimpse of midriff flesh. However, part of the point of Royale imagery was to take military men, manly representatives of a powerful national institution and subject them to humiliating situations. Retention of elements of the formal uniform is essential for this construct to work. Belts, gaiters and boots were Royale's favoured fetish items.

Royale Sailor Punished in Shorts 1

With his wrists tied into the rigging the model looks back in anxious anticipation as though suspecting that this job involves more than just looking sexy, his briefing having omitted a crucial detail. That mischievous rope between his legs looks even more suggestive here, being truncated (ouch!) by shadow. It's capable of multiple erotic interpretations with different degrees of filth according to taste!
Sadly, the passage of time and/or original over-exposure has pretty much washed out the detail of the captive's back, but we can see the nearer man's assets quite well, suggestively cloaked by obviously wet fabric. His weapon of choice looks a bit more weighty than the 'Cat O'Nine Tails' in the pictures of Part 1a (the previous post), and he's wagging it purposefully.
You can probably see what I mean about the belt here. The sailor's shirt has pulled out of it as he stretches upwards and is now concealing most of it except a gap where skin would otherwise be visible. Still, it's a nicely-designed, dramatic image overall with the upward viewpoint and overlapping poses indicating a photographer with a creative artistic eye.
Royale Sailor Punished in Shorts 2

This image is better preserved than the last and that's true in more than one sense, because this is the only Royale image I can think of that shows a punishment blow actually being delivered. There probably were more produced but they don't seem to have survived, perhaps because they were too realistic. 
Thus the knotted rope is blurred but we get a better view of those tight shorts. The model's upright pose indicates that he had braced himself to receive a genuine blow - compare it with the more relaxed receiving position just above. Sadly that adjustment in position means his bottom shaping is less attractive than it might be. The high waist-line of these shorts had an eroticism all it's own in those days with connections to feminine wear that persist today, but it is less appealing to modern eyes accustomed to squarer-shaped brevity for men. 
The modest (real?) bulge of the spanker here offers some compensation, it's notable for it's tightness as much as it's size. His smile suggests he might be exploiting the model's restraint to add realism.

Royale Sailor Punished in Shorts 3

He's got a more business-like expression here and the hapless victim appears to have collapsed onto the ropes under the weight of his blows which seem to be targeting his back. If the bulge seen previously seemed less than amazing, the victim's one here is a cracker and once again that centre rope seems to be directly involved. In the olden days, if anything was worse than depicting man-on-man spanking, it was the idea that the victim might actually be aroused by it. Imagine the embarrassment of those bullying, sadists on learning what disgusting body function they were encouraging down below!

My original copy of this picture is very small and I've done my best to enhance it but only have crude skills in that department. The original bulge detail must have been quite interesting but the ravages of time have not been entirely destructive and it's still very striking. I'm also attracted by the sensual sheen on the captive's thigh. You'll find the original picture in the archive (link below). 
The bulge in this picture gives a clue to who staged it..........

Brian Cross by Scott of London
Tight, white shorts like this with bewildering bulges were the trademark of one photographer in particular in this era, Scott of London. Some of his images (like that of Brian Cross above) are inspirational classics and are still regularly reposted by admirers today, including me - two more samples here. I've seen statements linking him with Royale and the glimpse of improbable man-tackle in the preceding image is characteristic of his style and artifice, and it's not the only one in this post (see below).
Royale - Sailor In The Rigging (with bulge)
 A different model again, (possibly Don Avard) shown wearing a shirt, ducks and standard webbing white belt for his punishment session. I like to think the shirt was ripped off him for later pictures in the series, but sadly I've never found any of them! Straps have replaced ropes round his wrists here. 
His image offers another graphic explanation for tightness of pants round the buttocks (and possibly the billowing effect after removal as seen in the coloured image above). You can decide for yourself whether it's real. The ropes that are framing this area are contrived to highlight the effect. In an era where such displays were totally illegal, obvious non-realism might have conceivably been a ploy to get round the prohibition, but I can't imagine it would have worked.
This series continues with another scantily clad Sailor in Royale Studio 1c
Information about the mitchmen Open Archive of Royale images is below 

Sailor Al
You may have noticed that the last of the shorts set above is marked 'from Sailor Al's Collection'. Sailor Al used to have a web-site of sorts where he offered paid views of his collection of Royale images. Some were identical to freely circulating images but this one is unique I believe. Others of his pictures were top quality images. I was in touch with him at one time and he told me how he had come by them and how he had unintentionally donated them to the internet by sharing them with a member of a spanking group. That group and it's archive has since declined and  perished with the creeping destruction of Yahoo! Groups. Any Royale images included here or found on the internet which have the word 'Originals' in the file name all came from Sailor Al's collection and we are all in his debt for saving and sharing them (unwittingly or not). I may tell that story one day.
The 'mitchmen' Open Archive of Royale Images
 These images come from 1950's Britain, a time when military service was compulsory for young men and opening up opportunities to see the world and meet new people. But it was also a time when gay men were being ruthlessly persecuted in the UK and often put in prison. The very creation of these photos with a not very subtle eroticism was brave statement of defiance, an underground resistance if you like. The recruitment of serving soldiers and sailors to pose for them was a delicious sabotage of institutional 'respectability'. It's effectiveness as propaganda must have been considerable. It asserted the existence in every walk of life of a sizeable minority the Government wanted to make invisible. An important gesture even if it did attract ruthless reprisals and ultimately the closure of the Studio.
The surviving Royale Studio images are part of gay history and deserve to be preserved and cherished by us as a community. Many of them (like the first in this post) still hold their own as erotica in the modern era. However it's become increasingly difficult to find coherent collections in recent years, thanks to the creeping sanitisation of internet hosting services and search engines. The best way of preserving them and celebrating them, I believe, is by sharing them as widely as possible and that torch picked up by younger generations. To that end I am making my whole collection available as a new, open archive here at mitchmen in the hope that they will inspire other gay men and encourage them to help preserve this piece of our heritage.
These 'Sailor in the Rigging' images form the first album of the new Open Archive. It also includes a few other sailor pictures, a number of variants of those presented here and some interesting cropped details. I have tried to label them using the original Royale numbers but some photos have different numbers on different copies so the result has not been entirely satisfactory.
You can access them as a zip file via this link: Royale Open Archive
 Please tell me via my profile link if you have difficulty downloading 


This article was extensively revised and extended in July 2021, a process that I hope to apply to the rest of the series in due course and as an adjunct to that creating an archive housing my entire collection of GIU and Royale images. I have provided a link to the 'Rigging' album just above.

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